Earlier this week, “06880” posted about TEAM Westport’s 2023 Teen Diversity Essay Contest.
The 10th annual event focuses on “The Dialogue Challenge: Effective Engagement on Race, Ethnicity, Religion and LGBTQIA+.”
The prompt says:
Team Westport’s mission is to make Westport a more welcoming community with regard to race, religion, ethnicity, and LGBTQIA+. In order to achieve its mission, one of TEAM Westport’s goals has been to promote opportunities for people to come together in dialogue to better understand each other’s experiences, decrease bias, and learn what we have in common. Meaningful dialogue depends on a good faith effort to set aside preconceived beliefs or what we think we know about other people.
In 1,000 words or less, reflect on your own interactions with people who have different racial, ethnic, religious, and/or LGBTQIA+ identities and/or perspectives. What kinds of conversations were particularly helpful in prompting you to rethink your beliefs or opinions, perhaps causing you to change your mind or enabling you to better understand others’ points of view? Based on these experiences, what specific actions would you suggest that individuals, schools, and/or town entities in Westport take to promote good-faith dialogue, reduce bias, and foster understanding?
It’s an important, in-depth and nuanced question.
But there’s no reason it should be limited to high school students.
Alert “06880” reader — and back-in-the-last-millennium Staples High School graduate — Clark Thiemann wrote in the Comments section:
Would love to see a version of this contest for all town residents. While I’ve found our high school students among the most thoughtful on these topics, I’d like to hear about how to have good conversations with people of different backgrounds and generations that might help break through walls.
Clark nailed it.
So let’s open it up to all “06880” readers.
What do you think? How can we have “good conversations with people of different backgrounds and generations that might help break through walls”?
Feel free to post in the Comments section. You can email too: email@example.com. I can post those in a stand-alone story.
Unlike the TEAM Westport Teen Essay Contest, there are no cash prizes.
But the payoff will be a much-needed town-wide discussion, on a topic that’s crucial to us all.
(NOTE: Most readers often fire off their comments — that’s the nature of a blog. For this one, please take time to consider what you’re saying, and how you say it. Please be civil; no ad hominem attacks. And of course, please use your full, real name.)
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